GLASGOW could be without future Lions Ali Price and Zander Fagerson for Friday night’s crucial Rainbow Cup match against Leinster at Scotstoun, it has emerged. There appear to be no hard-and-fast rules about which members of the touring squad are rested when, but with just weeks to go before the start of a demanding schedule in South Africa, both the scrum-half and the tight-head prop could feel the benefit of a weekend off.
Speaking after his team’s 27-16 win over the Dragons on Saturday night, Warriors coach Danny Wilson declined to divulge his selection policy for the Leinster match – one his team need to win to keep their chances of reaching the Cup final alive. But he did point out that he had made several changes before each of Glasgow’s three games, all of which they won, the clear implication being that the squad are in a good place and could withstand the absence of two key players.
“I’ll have conversations with those two boys as we have done all the way through,” Wilson said. “Those two have played in big games for us and gone well. We asked them to come out in the 1872 derby. They wanted to and we needed to win that game.
“We’ve made a lot of changes over the [last] three games and we’ve won all three. There’s no reason why we can’t do that again next week.”
Price said that he felt fresh and was in the mood to play in every game, but also acknowledged the need for players to have such decisions taken out of their hands from time to time. “No decision has been made yet,” he said. “We’ll need to discuss it. I’m not ready for a break yet – I’ll take it at the end of the tour.
“But Glasgow has a stable of nines better than or as good as most clubs. As much as you want to play and be involved in every big game, it doesn’t always happen, so it’s about finding a balance. I feel I’m in a good place and the team is going well.”
After a sluggish start at the Cardiff City Stadium, the Warriors certainly looked far closer to their old selves as they got the better of the Dragons. They had three tries disallowed but scored four tries, with Price being involved in the pick of the bunch, finished off by Ross Thompson.
“We’ve not had a straightforward season at all, with some very disappointing moments,” he continued. “But at the same time, we’re gathering a bit of momentum now.
“I feel really good at the moment. The whole squad kind of reflects how everyone is playing at the moment. Rugby is a lot easier when you run with intent and clear rucks. As a nine especially, your job is a hell of a lot easier when the team are on the front foot.
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“We’ve got a lot to play for. We’ve got around 20-odd boys leaving the club and there have been a few milestones ticked off for certain boys. I think we’ve just brought it back to fighting for the club and putting your body on the line. It’s been the mental side of the game – wanting to hit tackles and run over people.”
Fagerson certainly showed an appetite for doing exactly that, although he did have an anxious moment in the first half as the referee reviewed his use of a forearm in a fend. For a moment it looked like the front-row forward would be shown a yellow or even a red card, but after repeated viewings the decision was just a penalty against him, with the ruling that his contact had been made with the tackler’s shoulder, not his head.
Any further action by the authorities now appears unlikely, which will come as a relief to a player who has already been sent off this season. “When I first saw it I was very worried,” Wilson admitted. “But the initial contact was a bit lower, which was a mitigation from a red card point of view.”
On the whole it was a lively, keenly contested match, but once again the whole thing dragged out to nearly two hours, largely as a consequence of repeated stoppages for reviews, some of them occasioned by captain’s challenges. The challenge is one of three law changes being tried out in the Rainbow Cup, and Wilson admitted he has little time for it.
“These captain’s challenges are delaying the game,” he insisted. “I know I’m bound to say that because we got three tries disallowed, but we were out there for something like two hours. The sooner we move on the better.”